If you follow the news at all, it's difficult to avoid the disturbing headlines that crop up on a regular basis. It seems like we can't go a week without there being a story about an athlete assaulting his girlfriend or parents physically and emotionally abusing their kids. Some of us may know people who are psychologically dominated or controlled by a partner.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and an opportunity to remind ourselves that treating people (and knowing how to be treated) with the proper respect begins at home. Teach your kids these important values so that they will not only understand how to treat those around them, but just as importantly, know how they should be treated.

Here are some ways to get it done.

1. Talk to You Kids

It's reasonable to shelter our kids from awful events, but when done tactfully, they are also an opportunity to teach them important lessons. Sit down with them and get their thoughts while letting them know how you feel. Make them understand that this sort of behavior is completely unacceptable.

2. Monitor Your Behavior

Parents are human and make mistakes, but as adults, we must maintain control when we feel frustrated, angry, or fed up. Words or actions that are seemingly innocuous can have a profoundly negative impact on a child, so be aware of how they feel and act accordingly.

3. Work as a Team

My wife and I are constantly watching each other's back regarding how we interact with our kids. If we feel something isn't right, we don't hesitate to say something. Abusive or hurtful actions on the part of a parent are often unintentional but still should be addressed. If one of you ignores your feelings, seek outside intervention.

3. Build Their Self-Esteem

Kids who grow up in an abusive environment may begin accept it as normal, which is a shame. No person should tolerate abusive behavior, and a strong sense of self-esteem is one way to achieve this. Kids who feel good about themselves grow up with a stronger sense of right and wrong and how to respond to violence.

4. Treat Your Spouse With Respect

Children get their cues from mom and dad, so parents need to be good role models and treat each other with decency and respect. This will teach kids what is acceptable behavior in any future relationship.

5. Make Sure They Understand Their Rights

As kids get older, they will need to know how to deal with various situations on their own. This begins with knowing their rights. Kids should learn early on that violence is unacceptable and should not be tolerated under any circumstance.

6. Teach Them How to Respond

Our job as parents is to teach our kids how to act in any given situation, and this is especially true when violent or abusive behavior occurs. Remind your children that they should remove themselves from these situations and seek out help.

7. Let Them Know You're Always There for Them

Knowing that you are unconditionally there for them reminds your children that they have someone to turn to in their time of need, which when you really get down to it, is our job as a parent. 

8. Teach Them to Stand Up for Themselves

Standing up for your rights does not necessarily mean engaging in conflict. It can also include letting someone know how you feel, seeking out help when you need it, and when the situation calls for it, walking away.

Protecting our kids from harm is on every parent's mind, but we can't be there for them all the time. Unfortunately, abuse occurs in our world. The best thing we can do is teach our kids to be strong and independent, and to know that domestic violence is never acceptable and when they encounter it, they should take action.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, seek help immediately. Reach out to friends and family, contact the authorities, and call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

To learn more about domestic violence, visit the website for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.